ArtsBoston Employs a Variety of Tactics to Boost Ticket Sales

November 29, 2011 — Greater competition from “deal-of-the-day” websites has led ArtsBoston, a nonprofit serving more than 170 Greater Boston theatre, music, dance, visual arts, and film member groups, to refine its approach to its annual promotion of holiday performing arts events – resulting in a 30% increase in sales.

ArtsBoston today reported that during November, the first month of this year’s Mayor’s Holiday Special, the program earned $242,000 in advance ticket sales, 30% more than last year at this time.

”In past years, many arts groups have noted a trend for patrons to purchase tickets last-minute: people wait to plan and spend. This year, we’re seeing patrons willing to purchase earlier in order to secure a discount for unique experiences, and they are spending an average of almost $4 more per ticket,” said Catherine Peterson, ArtsBoston executive director. “We see it as a positive retail indicator that our customers are eager to look further out and to seek new adventures.”

Mayor’s Holiday Special, now in its eighth year, is a collaboration between ArtsBoston, City of Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, the Mayor’s Office of Arts, Tourism & Special Events, and the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau. It aims to boost audiences by making popular holiday season performances more affordable to more people, and further position the arts as an economic engine during this critical retail season. The program launched Nov. 1 and runs through Jan. 1.

Noting that every dollar from ticket sales is reinvested in Boston’s arts community, Menino said, “In tandem with our Main Street and Shop Local initiatives, this program provides essential support for the artists and arts organizations in our community.”

Strategic Discounting and Web Technology Play Key Roles

“Strategic discounting is an essential tactic,” explained Peterson. “For the arts community, early sales at all price points help drive the health and sustainability of the local arts industry.

“Selling a compelling range of discounted tickets helps create urgency, momentum and word-of-mouth. It can also be a powerful way to reach new audiences that either can’t afford to share the experience with as many friends and family at full price or need the incentive in order to take a chance on experiencing something new.”

She noted that a shared commitment between all partners is what enables the program to thrive. To help, Boston this year facilitated new outdoor bus shelter and MBTA advertising and the mayor hosted a kickoff on City Hall Plaza.

Print, radio, and online partners are also showcasing the program. Media partners this year include Magic 106.7, Boston Globe,, and Boston Metro.

ArtsBoston, which created and manages the program’s website, improved the technology behind the website to enable social sharing of its content and improved online content packaging such as a Plan Your Experience drop down menu that helps patrons sort shows by themes such as “Family Friendly,” “Romantic Night Out,” and “Holiday Alternatives.”

Website use rose significantly in November, registering 127% more visitors and 23% more restaurant voucher downloads, ArtsBoston reported.

In addition, ArtsBoston renovated and reopened the Faneuil Hall BosTix Booth, a companion to its Copley Square Booth, to create what it described as “a visually-striking home for the arts amid a hub of resident and visitor traffic arts group half-price ticket inventories, half-price ticket sales, and core outreach.”

“In a discount landscape filled with “deal-of-the-day” offers, Mayor’s Holiday Special is an easy-to-navigate, one-stop, 'Shop Local’ collaboration that generates powerful impact,” said ArtsBoston Director of Marketing and Communications Jennifer Falk.

Since its inception, has welcomed over 86,000 people to a holiday show—enough to fill Fenway Park more than twice, or Symphony Hall 33 times—saved ticket buyers more than $2 million and put $2.5 million directly into the local arts economy.